Blueprint For A Beautiful World

Nikhil’s Blueprint For A Beautiful World

At Moneyless Society, inclusiveness is a cornerstone to innovation. We strive to provide a platform to anyone who has put for the effort to articulate or mitigate the systemic issues of today’s socioeconomic design, with the intention of coming up with the best system possible, via collaboration. -L.R.

Author Nikil Kulkarni Original Post HERE

A detailed plan to bring about a systemic change

PROBLEMS

To build a beautiful new world we first need to have the courage to look at the ugly parts of the present world. Problems we see in the world today are:

  • “Wealth Inequality: 8 people own the same wealth as half the world (2017 report).” (Oxfam report)
  • “45.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. Yes, slavery still exists.” (Global slavery index 2016)
  • Rot in our medical sector: Fake surgeries & sink tests to make more money.” (As per Dissenting Diagnosis book by Dr. Arun Gadre & Dr Ajay Shukla)
  • “We eat Genetically modified foods and drink Synthetic milk, we are putting Poison on our plates, thanks to profit-seeking food industry” (Poison on our plates TED talk)
  • Child labour in the makeup industry — Using children in Jharkhand as slaves to mine Mica and make more profits.
  • “A lot of scientific research is sponsored and a specific outcome is sought by forcing scientists to manipulate results. All for profit.”
    (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)
  • “21,000 hungry people die every day, mostly children.”
    (Simple Google search)
  • “Global warming & environmental damage.”
    (Cowspiracy documentary)
  • Wars in the middle east killing & enslaving innocent people.
  • Global Warming / Climate change, Cruelty towards animals
  • Real workers are not well paid or respected (Farmers, Sanitary workers, etc)
  • Unemployment due to Automation
  • Inertia of corporations (We can’t seem to stop something even after knowing its harmful)
  • Most Work/Jobs are boring (Monotonous jobs)
  • Luxury vs utility (System encourages greed of the rich, ignores basic needs of poor)
  • Less freedom to do what we like

….

..

.

The list just doesn’t end !

Noamount of charity, volunteers, spreading awareness, increasing inspections & monitoring or making new policies seem to solve these problems because the problem is deep rooted in the system. This small booklet is not about the flaws in our economic system; you can read numerous articles about them or watch documentaries online. The focus of this booklet is on the plan, a step by step process to bring about the change. So let’s start!

THE BLUEPRINT

There are two paths towards achieving systems changeLet’s try the second one too !

One is that we all as consumers reject the existing system, by living and building a new system — a simple life, choosing to live in a sustainable community by farming, growing our own food, etc.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

This approach is gaining momentum but still it is difficult for many people to join this path, nevertheless it is an important one.

Here, in this book I describe the other path — A path of enlightened entrepreneurship which I believe is an unexplored model and it has a positive feedback loop — meaning, the struggle to make change happen is less . We can transform the economic system by building a different model of business. Also, this path needs a smaller number of people.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

“The first path is about being a different kind of consumer , Now let’s try to become a different kind of producer.”

The Plan

A unique three step master plan narrated using an example of a restaurant but can be applied to any customer centric business. Let’s try something new, let’s enter a new story !

Step one : A new business model

Set up non-greedy businesses, let’s call them zero-profit’s !

Let’s say there’s a restaurant you run and you make good profits. Now consider, if you ran the restaurant in a way that you took just enough money needed for your basic needs (ex : by giving yourself a minimum wage that is prescribed in your country) and you pump back profits into the society, then what would happen?

How would you put profits back into the society ? Not by buying more stuff (buying stuff reinforces the existing system which is based on consumerism — So, No! You have to limit buying to your basic needs by living a simple life). You can give back profits in two ways:

i) You calculate and reimburse the profit you made off of a customer who did business with you by refunding via many digital options like paypal and leaving a nice message.

Result : A surprised, happy, curious and a loyal customer — It’s now an opportunity to educate customers about zero-profit businesses, what you are doing and why. You will know the what and why soon as you read the entire plan.

ii) You reduce the prices of all that your restaurant produces or offers. To customers, explain the decrease in prices by putting up the cost analysis.
Ex: The zero-profit price of this product is 50.
Veggies cost = 20 , bread = 15, tax = 5, our margin to sustain = 10.

Result :
– With honesty, you gain trust of people.
– With decreased prices your demand will increase.
– Increase in demand meaning more sales.
– More sales meaning, you will need a lesser sustenance margin per product.
– Less margin means lesser prices to customers.
– Lower prices mean happy customers and more customers.

Zero-profit businesses will begin to beat profit-making competitors due to lower prices, more trust and a sense of purpose in creating a better world. But without profits to reinvest, how would a zero-profit business expand?

Step two: Expansion of business

  • Expand using Crowdfunding & Volunteer support. Get legal recognition.

Invoke crowdfunding

An appeal to happy customers can be made, asking them to support you in building more ethical businesses i.e more zero-profit businesses. Tell your customers on your crowdfunding website — “Hey! As you can see, the cost of bread is the highest we incur , which we pass onto you. So, can you help us set up an “zero-profit Bakery” that sells bread at zero-profit prices, so that we can bring the costs down for everyone. Also since we do not make any profits off our customers, we can grow only if you support us.”

With a zero-profit Bakery, the cost of bread you buy decreases, to say, 12 from 15.
So the cost of your Restaurant product decreases to 47.
Veggies cost = 20 , bread = 12 (previously 15), tax = 5, our margin to sustain = 10.

Customers of both, the restaurant and the new zero-profit bakery are happy now as they get periodic reimbursements if profits are made off them, enjoy cheaper prices and most importantly have a trust that the business will never cheat them or rip them off.

With support from people set up zero-profit businesses such as a zero-profit Flour mill (as its a huge cost for zero-profit Bakery). Soon, with growing support there will be a zero-profit bakery, zero-profit Flour mill, zero-profit Farm, zero-profit Ketchup factory, etc. that will power your zero-profit Restaurant to provide food at a damn low cost of, say 15 (from 50 previously).

This will increase competition in the market and force other typical profit making businesses that produce the same goods to either decrease their prices and become a zero-profit business (conversion) or to shut down. Now the time is ripe to grow further.

Invite volunteers

Tell the world about your purpose and invite them to join you. Use the numerous online resources — articles and videos, that make a point that the profit-making nature of our system is screwing up the world we live in. Tell the world how a zero-profit business is trying to build a more sustainable and beautiful world. Invite them to join you. Spread the message that the new form of activism is to volunteer for a zero-profit.

When volunteers join, you can save more costs and therefore reimburse more amounts to your customers, decrease prices further which inturn increases demand, etc. Apart from the positive feedback loop due to decrease in operating costs, there are social benefits too :

Sense of community arises

Imagine when a customer sees that someone from their neighbourhood, whom s/he knows, is working (i.e volunteering) at the restaurant, serving tables or helping with the dishes. The entire scene changes: The customer will have curiosity as to why their neighbour is doing that and will have a chat to learn more about the concept of zero-profit companies. Customers feel an increased respect for volunteer-workers, a feeling of gratitude arises for their services, a sense of belonging is felt as the restaurant involves the community around it in its activities . All these things build a stronger community, increase loyalty of customers and increase donations to zero-profit businesses.

Legal recognition

Like non-profits are supported, ask government support for zero-profit businesses. A zero-profit business can be registered as a non-profit company but it would be preferable to get a new legal identity having similar subsidies and relaxations from the government in order to encourage more such businesses. A new legal identity increases awareness about this kind of business model. A campaign can be carried out for this purpose which will, if nothing else, serve in spreading the word about zero-profit business model and its goal.

But what’s our goal ? Let’s find out where this path is taking us.

Step Three: Rise of the new system

A new system is born out of the ashes of the old.

Slowly, zero-profit companies grow due to community support in every industry and begin to dominate the economic system by beating the profit-making companies due to PriceTrust and Sense of community. Now, comes the most interesting part in the story. Imagine a scenario where a particular good, which is in demand, becomes scarce. Think of groceries, sanitizers and toilet papers that became scarce due the panic shopping induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

When some goods become scarce, what will the zero-profit companies do ? how will they distribute these goods ? Will they increase the price so that only people willing to pay a high amount get the good ? The core, fundamental, supply-demand logic of the existing economic system says that price should be increased because there is a higher demand, but the zero-profit company is designed to not make any profits from customers and therefore cannot apply the “increase the prices” strategy to distribute goods. What will a zero-profit business do ?

Take Tags

This is the breaking moment of the old system. We can see it crumbling. The new zero-profit businesses will not follow the fundamental law of the old system and thus give birth to new laws that make the new system come alive. A new metric (other than prices) has to evolve that tries to distribute the limited goods to everyone. We saw signs of this new metric during the recent panic shopping due to Corona. Some governments ordered supermarkets to not increase prices and therefore the way supermarkets dealt with it was to introduce tags that said “Please take 2 packets per person , please take 1 kg per person, etc.” Let’s call these “Take Tags”.

To understand Take tags better, we need to look at the society in which these “Take tags” evolve. In a society of strict control by the government , these tags would definitely be strict orders, which, if not followed, lead to punishments. But consider our story in which zero-profit businesses exist because of people’s support and have served customers without being greedy. Also, the society has seen a lot of people volunteering at supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The volunteers do so because they like to connect with their community, they like spending their evenings like that, they like to serve or simply because they like the purpose of zero-profit businesses. The customers visiting these businesses trust them more, feel a sense of belonging and gratitude because the people volunteering here genuinely want to serve and help. In this context, when the take tags arrive, customers will respect these requests and try to limit their purchases. If a customer takes more, it’s not a problem too because maybe their needs are more (due to more family members at home, due to more appetite,etc) but the workers or volunteers will humbly let them know that the purpose of take tags is that everyone gets the goods and they will request or remind the customers to be mindful of the lovely community around them.

Healthy deflation

Slowly, in your restaurant, your own margin for sustenance goes down — as now, you get food from zero-profit farms, clothes from zero-profit stores, etc.. You revise your salary by taking a pay cut i.e you lower the margin that you take from each sale. Isn’t it common for us to ask for a salary hike due to rising cost of living i.e inflation, which is mostly the case in our current economy ? Similarly, with more zero-profits in the economy, it will be very normal to lower the salaries as everything is becoming more affordable around us. The effect of employee pay-cut is lower sales margin, which means lower prices of goods in your business. This is a deflation, a healthy deflation.

A deflation in which drop in prices of commodities is not due to reasons like — decreased buying because jobs are lost or there’s an economic crisis, then it is what I call a healthy deflation. In a healthy deflation, prices are going down and poor are able to afford more and more goods, it’s a good economic situation where the value of currency of a country is increasing due to its increased buying power. When Indian rupee value increases against the dollar , aren’t we all happy ?, Yes, this can be caused due to healthy deflation.

Zero-profit companies in different sectors become big by beating competition by price, by honesty & trust from the crowd. Prices keep decreasing and tend towards zero. Everyone can buy everything now.

Through healthy deflation we increase the value of money so much that money begins to have no value at all in our lives.

Easy to shift jobs

Soon, Take tags become more important than price tags as now everyone has enough money to buy whatever they want. As people start feeling richer and start realizing that having more money doesn’t get you any extra privileges, they stop working in jobs they do not like and seek communities & hobbies that enrich their lives. Volunteers continue serving because they like what they do, why they do and the community they are in. Quietly, things begin to fall into place to shape the new world where everyone works on what they like. The society reshuffles in a way that puts passionate people in areas of their interest. The pressure to earn a living is no longer present to guide them into uninteresting career paths.

Another role of Tags

Due to workforce loss in difficult and dirty jobs, there will be effects like rice production going down and thus the number on the “Take tag” for rice decreases from “Please take 5 kgs per person to 1 kg per person”, to serve everyone — So we see that Supply affects the number on the Take Tags in our new system.

Some people in the society might feel that the “Take tag” on rice is less because they mainly consume rice at home. Then they have two options. One is to take more irrespective of the tags, hoping that other people who are not big rice eaters decrease their consumption. If that happens, then there’s no problem but when everyone starts taking more, then the number on the Take tags will go even down saying “Please take 500 grams per person”. Therefore, Demand also affects the number on the Take Tags in our new system. Supply and Demand affect “Takes” (not prices) , the new metric of our new system. The advantages of Takes as a new metric will be evident as we think deeper about our new system.

The second option people have during scarcity in a new system is to work or volunteer, for example — at a rice farm, so that they can take home more rice, as usually employees get benefits. Due to this move, the rice production will again improve in the society.

Automation is encouraged

Now, if a techie person volunteers or works in a rice farm, they might bring automation to the farm to decrease labour and increase productivity. Soon the take tag on rice would satisfy everyone’s needs and no one would need to struggle to work at a rice farm just to get more rice. In this way, all basic goods that we consume will see automation and their take tags will reach a satisfying number. Anyone who isn’t satisfied with something can always go work or volunteer in concerned areas to get more of that good.

Gift Trade

As one by one basic needs get automated by the society in order to get more free time for themselves, we see that production capacity increases. When surplus goods and services are generated, we share them with our neighbours, just like when we have something extra we give it to friends and neighbours, else the food goes waste. And since the people in the new system do not need money anymore, they will just gift their surplus to the neighbours. This is how trade (read gifting) and deep friendly relations would develop between countries.

REFLECTIONS

System is the education

The take tags serve as a mindfulness exercise whenever customers go to buy something. These tags are requesting people all the time to think about others (unselfishness) whereas price tags in our existing system always make us think about ourselves (selfishness).

“Selfishness and Unselfishness , both these are working side by side conjointly; in almost everyone they are found in mixture, one or the other predominating. The thief steals, perhaps, for someone he loves.” — Swami Vivekananda

Isn’t it wiser to design systems that nurture our good side. Imagine a mother and her child walking into a supermarket. The child wants chocolates, many of them. In today’s world, the mother would tell the child, “Please take only one because it’s very expensive”. We teach children how to not spend more because it’s important to save money for our well being in future, etc. All these are good lessons but they are self-centred. In a new system where there are take tags on chocolates, the mother would tell a child, “Please take only one because other children in our society should also get to eat them, right ?”. We will teach children to think about others, to understand and care for other people’s needs. Isn’t this a more beautiful lesson ? Such are the lessons the new system would teach us every day, every moment and then imagine the beautiful world we would build with such education happening all around us.

System design

Take tags evolved due to external pressure of the government during the pandemic in the old system but in our story, this new distribution metric called “Take tags” will evolve naturally due to the nature of the zero-profit businesses. Hence, the well-being of everyone in the society is an inherent property of the new system design unlike the old system where the government has to intervene so that people do not suffer.

Slavery, not environment, is the real issue

Even if Earth had Infinite resources and even if there was no climate change happening, a monetary economic system is still bad as it causes Economic slavery. The poor in the society are exploited all their lives to serve the needs of the people wealthier than them. During the coronavirus pandemic, we saw that the poor migrant daily-wage workers in India were starving because they had no savings left after a few days of lockdown, to buy food. Our society never pays the poor enough that they can save money and come out of poverty, infact, we want them to stay poor and keep serving us. It is not a shocking situation because of the very design or concept of “money” itself, which makes us want to keep it for ourselves. Therefore the new system solves this problem by making money worthless.

Role of an Economic system

The role of an economic system is to give human species an idea on where to work, so that all humans lead a good life on the planet. The function of money is to point us to these areas because the more the money is in doing something means more is the demand for it from people and hence people need that thing. This is only true if money is equally distributed because money is the vote in this system. Therefore our economic system fails so badly to cater to the problems of the poor who have no voting power.

We can retain the power of numbers in an economic system as pointers to where we can work and do away with the bad parts of the system that arise due to money. We just did that in our story by replacing Money with a new metric call “Takes”.

Meditation

We humans are a result of billions of years of evolution, but our economic system is what we have created recently, It should be relatively easier to transform it compared to the transformation of a man. One such plan, one such blueprint for our personal transformation was given to us by Gautama Buddha in his meditation technique. This small book is nothing but the application of the same technique to the transformation of the economic system.

Sharing economy

We saw that consumables such as rice, potatoes etc can have take tags like “Take 2 kgs per person” but what about non-consumable goods like cars ? What would a zero-profit Automobile maker do when there are more people ready to buy a car than the number of cars made ? What if the ratio of customers to cars is 5:1 or 10:1 ? Since it cannot increase prices so that demand decreases to meet the supply , the businesses will innovate on distribution strategies.

An innovative way to distribute would be by asking people to share the cars. A sharing economy with Take tags like “Please use 1 hour per person per day” will arise because everyone can pay for car’s usage. The cars will be put in every neighbourhood and can be unlocked using some online means which tracks our usage to let us know if we are sharing the resource equitably. A sharing economy of this sort can be our new future.

RESULTS

Let’s examine what happens to all the problems we listed in the beginning when we bring a systemic change by following the plan explained above.

Wastage

Wastage is one of the results of a system which is designed based on incentives. Isn’t it insane that in the current system producers want their products to stop functioning after a certain time ? It goes against the basic instinct of any creator. Producers do it so that consumers buy more. This is called Planned obsolescence. Can you imagine such a thing happening in the new system ? Would businesses want people to buy more when there are no profits to be made at all ? Would volunteers want their produce to go waste ?

Hierarchical Structures

Rich people who run businesses have a lot of influence in their industry and therefore can make or break careers. The hierarchical structure leads to exploitation such as sexual abuse in Hollywood and other film industries (#MeToo). In a new system where money has almost no role, these structures would automatically break.

Exports and Imports

Food is exported from different parts of the world to the developed western world because they pay more. Because exporting is a lucrative business, many countries export food even at the cost of people dying of hunger in their own countries. Such a thing would not happen in the new system where export only happens when there is a surplus left after the local needs are fulfilled.

Research & Innovation

Great innovators didn’t innovate for the monetary rewards they would get but they did it for the joy of it. Necessity is the mother of invention; Solving problems gives us joy and only that should attract people to solve them, not anything else. All great things were done for the sake of those very great things, not for something else. Curiosity & innovation are human nature, we do not need something extra to motivate us to solve our problems. By offering something, we only complicate our problems but inviting to the table a bunch of people who are greedy for the reward and not for solving the problem — they care less about it. In-fact these kinds of people also create problems so that they can solve them somehow and keep making money.

Priority of Automation

In the present system, we automate things which can save businesses a lot of cost because money is the main metric. In the new system, Takes are the main metric and this metric needs to be increased for a better life. When we increase Takes, they increase for everyone, whereas when cost is saved, some people save and increase their money but lotta people lose jobs and hence lose money. Therefore, the result of automation is more inclusive in the new system. In such a case, the basic needs are automated first because the people who have skills to automate also need their basic needs fulfilled only then they can work on other things. Thus the automation experts in a community have a personal stake in automating the basic needs, else shortages of food or water will keep them busy by making them work in those sectors.

The priority of automation will finally be set right. Basic needs first, other things later !

Greed vs Gratitude

What can a greedy person get in a new system. He can take a lot of food and store in his home, which is equivalent to panic shopping during Corona crisis. The effect of panic shopping is temporary since those who panic shop will not shop for next few weeks. The other thing a greedy person can do is use the car all for himself from morning till night. In this case, the person has spent all his day driving around and wasted a lot of time of the day when others were spending family time or time with the community and working on things they like. So greed doesn’t get you much in the new system. Infact, gratitude emerges as you see people working in various fields so that we thrive collectively.

New Problems in the new system

The new system will not be an ideal world and thank god it will not be so. The new problems we will have to deal with maybe in the form of — “Growing laziness and depression due to increased free time, automation in slaughterhouses leading to continued cruelty towards animals, frustration in trying to find the meaning of life leading to philosophical and spiritual struggles, etc.

Some Short Movies showing Problems:

In Shadow” , an abstract animation shows all that’s wrong in today’s society.

Alike”, a father son animation shows how creativity is lost in society.

The turning point” — Explores the destruction of the environment, climate change and species extinction from a different perspective.


About the Editor L.R. is author of the Revolt Blog, contributor to the Moneyless Society website and social media platforms, a Venus Project Regional Coordinator in training, as well as a multimedia Visual Artist and co-host on the MoSo Podcast.

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